• Yevgen Y

Technology in Education - Race to Catch Up

Updated: Feb 12, 2018


Originally posted on September 19, 2014 - modified February 12, 2018

#Technology and #DistanceEducation is a dearest topic to my heart as I started to work with my educational institution as programmer analyst designing software for administrating students and progressed to something that could be called course-coordinator/instructional designer/architect. I’ve seen in the last now 15 years how student demographic changed and how technology making learning either easier or much more complicated. I see the straggle and experience every day race to catch up with technology while there is a pressure and demand for an innovation.


Simonson et al. states that “rapid changes in technology challenge the traditional ways in which distance education is defined” (Simonson et al., 2012, p. 9). I find that in the recent years this challenge becomes more and more defined. New technologies emerge with the rapid speed. I believe that distance education can’t catch up with them and most likely never will. Currently technological market is flooded with hundreds of different types of devices, because companies-producers are still fighting for their domination of the market struggling to survive and become the most popular. Compatibility and standardization rates are much slower than technological progress and that raises my concerns that distance education currently losing its battle of staying current. While talking about use of technology in education we are limiting ourselves to the most common market of devices and software. This is happening not by choice but because we as knowledge providers can’t cater to the all possible types of devices. For example, developing an application for the mobile device or a tablet will usually limit it to one type of device (Apple, Windows, Samsung, Android etc) due to the variety of operating systems and methods of distribution for the app. I could not agree more with the following statement that distance education is certainly not a sustaining technology, and rather disruptive (Simonson et al., 2012, p.11) but what should we do if we are tied to the basic HTML pages vs mobile apps to ensure that we are serving wide variety of users. Yes, there are Youtube, Vibe, Adobe, Skype and some other useful technologies to make learning more interactive but in reality we lack standardization. Standardization most likely will be the next step in concurring technology for distance education because there is growing need for that.


Success of distance education speaks for itself, as in recent years more and more prestigious universities move their courses online or starting to use blended course delivery methods. Distance education is here to stay and its evolution is now inevitable.  But while delivering courses online we should be aware of use of technology and should not use ‘trendy’ technologies just for the sake of using them. That frustrates users and makes learning harder. Technologies should go hand-on-hand with pedagogical principles and its effectiveness depends on: how well technology supports learning outcomes, if support systems are in place and easily accessible, availability of instructor/mediator, and how well educational materials are designed. So maybe at this point of time while new technologies quickly emerge and die we should not chase the ‘trend’ if it is not widely supported by different platforms but concentrate on basics of pedagogy and instructional design. Do not take me wrong, I am not dismissing use of new technology, I am asking to use it carefully and weight all advantages against disadvantages before implementing new things.


References:

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of Distance Education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 

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